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Category Archives: devotion thoughts

I walk offstage, my mind in a blur, my heart racing. My legs are numb – rare for me, after I’ve danced. Stress floods my heart. I try to talk, but my voice comes out cracked… more like a whisper. “How’d you do?” I ask one of my Radiant sisters. “Oh, just horrible!” 

Yes, my friend. So did I.

Thankfully, our little incident occurred at dress rehearsal, not at show. This probably effected the physical and mental demise it did because this song {was} my favorite. I still love it, but my heart’s cry sings louder in this season of my life with “Make Me Over” by Natalie Grant… not so much {problem song} anymore. I still love the message – worship while we’re waiting. It’s beautiful. And yet I felt as though by dancing, I was sure to be distracting the audience from worshiping, not leading them.

My best friend let me borrow “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp – we didn’t have time to read it while she was here, so she was sweet and selfless and let me keep it for a few days. Ann is such a beautifully poetic writer… and her message is dear. The Lord uses gratitude to take us deeper into the mystery of His salvation. Gee – a month ago, salvation wouldn’t quite have struck me as a mystery. Then again, a month ago, I was struggling so terribly with discontentment, I couldn’t bear it.

Ann talks about the ten lepers Jesus healed. We all probably know how only one returned to thank Jesus… but remember what Jesus said? “Your faith has healed you.”

HEALED him? Jesus, the ungrateful lepers were healed too. What do you mean, healed?

The Greek word for healed {I think? Dear me, it’s too late} ends up meaning “fullness, complete”. Oh yes, the other nine lepers were physically healed. But this one guy who came and bowed in gratitude truly touched Jesus’ heart. This man was blessed in that he could enjoy Jesus’ salvation more freely. By thankfulness. In everything, everything, give thanks. 

Tomorrow, we’re going to have to dance our songs onstage. I’m privileged beyond belief to be able to lead worship in that way…

Yes Lord, I’m thankful. I’m thankful I get to dance with such precious girls – such wonderful, worshipful dancers. I’m thankful that You delight in my worship, even when my ankle gives way, I loose my balance. Father, You delight in ME. 

Teach us to see ourselves the way You do. I’ve been too ungrateful for too long – and I’ve wasted such lovely years of my life doing so. Continue to teach us thankfulness in the little things, and Lord, please continue to unravel the mysteries of Your peace and joy in each of our lives. Your thankfulness… the thankfulness Jesus had in His heart even when He died. The thankfulness that fills me with joy in You… not in my dance ability, not in my dreams. 

You, and You alone! ❤

…I’m busy

…I’m obsessed with sewing

…I’m getting way too involved in doing dance-business, instead of preparing my heart

…I’m giving my advice, instead of love

…I’m letting my heart drift away from my Daddy

…I’m praying for people out of sinful motives

…I’m promising to pray and not praying

…I’m dwelling on insecurities instead of the servant God destined me to be

…I’m trying to impress people, NOT God

…I’m “forgetting” about doing Latin

…I’m jealous of other peoples’ gifts

Even then – God still loves me, carries me, sings over me, promises to protect and guide me, and loves my worship just the same. His love never fails. 

 

Note: if God lays it on your heart, could you pray for our dance ministry in this busy season? Not just that the production will be wonderful or that stress won’t be at an infuriating high, but that we’d evaluate our priorities, and continually surrender our worries to our Lord? Especially for my Mom #2, that she’ll find her rest in Jesus, especially with her crazy-busy busyness. Oh, thank you!

Speaking of the show… 🙂

(I liked this better than the official invite, hence the reason it’s kinda cut off at the bottom.)

Praise His Name With Dancing
presents
Whiter Than Snow
 
“Beauty is only skin deep”…or is it?
Come experience the beauty and creativity of Whiter Than Snow, an adventure for all ages!
Full of contemporary song and dance, enchanting drama, and colorful costumes
 that will captivate your heart.
You’re sure to enjoy the journey of Snow as she discovers
“who’s the fairest of them all.”

 

 Saturday, June 11, 7:30 p.m.  &  Sunday, June 12, 3:30 p.m.


North High School Auditorium
985 Gorge Blvd., Akron, OH  44310

Free Admission!

Wow – after all these months of talking about “I’m gonna be an intern this summer at Urban Vision” , it’s actually happened! Well, that is to say, we had our first meeting. And it went SO well, I just wanted to share with you a bit of what they’re like, and how powerfully faith-stretching it is!

First, I had to go to UV early and help with the Fiasco – I mean, the Kid’s Club. I just knew Mr. Rodney was up to something when he invited – I mean, commanded – me to help with 3-year-olds. I have met my match, y’all. A tiny (RED! NOO) room full of children who are all crawling on you at the exact same time, yelling things, taking too long in the bathroom, getting lost, yelling some more…. I think 4-5 3-year-olds are nice. Not twenty. Anyway, I endured, slightly set aback when the leader commented to me, “My, these kids, they’s doing real good today!” Really, I almost fainted. I don’t want to see a bad day. No sir. 

Thankfully, I’d packed some of my bread and Craisins, and before the intern meeting really started, I ate them and gained my brain’s control. I got to meet the other intern, Maggie (from the outside, Jeff calls us. It’s his nice way of saying we don’t attend Urban Vision; we volunteer there.). She was really sweet, and we’ve both had similar in-a-sport-and-pulled-out-temporarily-for-UV stories. Jeff told us and April Paw to lead worship, which just meant picking out one song each and talking about what it meant to us. Even though there were 8 teens total, I was still kinda nervous about talking. I detest public speaking, y’all. But I picked “Trading My Sorrows”, and managed a fun little speech on how when I’m having a bad day, I’ll stick my struggles in. “I’m trading my fear, I’m trading my jealousy, I’m trading them all for the joy of the Lord.” Not as bad as I thought, for sure ;). And it was really fun to worship with the other teens.

Then, Jeff asked us each to share a time in our lives when we’d really felt close to God -or- something God’s been teaching us lately. Currently, I’m struggling with a fear of loneliness and some slight possessive-ness with my best friend. So as I sat there, heart beating much to fast, I felt nudged to reach into my pocket for my index card. Sammie’s inspired me, at the beginning of the day, to write a verse or word from God on that card, and carry it as a reminder of His love. So the verses I wrote on that card were from Psalm 71, mostly about God being our strong habitation. It was kind of fun, too, how just recently, God showed me a treasure in the Great Commission. So when my turn came, I went up front with a Bible and my index card… worried. But you know, my Daddy just held me the whole way.

I talked of how I’ve been fearful of loneliness – how I cling to my best friend and encouragement from people I know. Encouragement and admiration aren’t wrong, but I totally cling to them WAY too much – from people. I told of my desire to go and be a missionary in Thailand, teaching the refugees and how I was scared because I would be alone. Then I read from my index card, truly comforted by my Daddy’s sweet voice, “I AM your strong habitation! I gotcha tight.” Then I read through the Great Commission.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alwayseven to the end of the age.” Amen.

(Matthew 28:19-20)

I love how Jesus ended on a promise, not a command! ❤ You….

So after sharing all that, we had some accountability-group time. I’m with Ba Bler (Bobbi, more commonly known). I shared a struggle I have and how she could help, and she did the same. And then I felt like I was Sam, talking to me… which is a very very good thing! I was on God-high, telling her what I do when I don’t want to read the Bible. I told her, “Sometimes, I just say ‘Look, Daddy… I REALLY don’t want to dig into Your Word today! Help!’, and then open my Bible, and BAM! There’s something there I really needed.” Well, I plunked a Bible open at the same time I was saying all this, and found this gem:

Again the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘ I am zealous for Zion with great zeal;
With great fervor I am zealous for her.’” ~Zechariah 8:1-2

We’re totally part of this promise as Gentiles – God’s grafted us on to the Jewish vine, so to speak.

Let that sink in! God, the perfect, all-powerful, amazing God, is jealous for us! Qanna – jealous. Wow… and that was a day I really needed to hear that. I’m not sure how much it helped Bobbi but it certainly blessed me!

Hehe I didn’t really start this post intending it to be a “Jehovah series” post. But lookie what God did! (As dance class today proved, when I’m on God-high, I’m also quite talkative and can’t stay on a topic – or, as Sam likes to say, “giddy”. We totally did the exact same thing 3 times today at class, and I got in minor trouble -again- for talking too long after class. This is joy overflowing and out of control, y’all! I just love it ;).)

I just pray our God would fill you with assurance like He did for me today – that He would continually remind you He’s more than enough for all of your needs… He’s just too precious :). So I’m gonna rest in His arms for awhile, and do my Latin, and look at the lovely sunshine. And listen to the birds…

And I’m also going to TRY to stop talking! 😀 (I love Your joy, Daddy….)


I suppose there comes a time when we just really want to share something special that happened in our lives. Even if it goes against the grain of the rest of the blog :). This one is definitely one worth telling, one that will probably embarrass my poor cousin. But it’s a cute story nonetheless, and I hope you enjoy it! Rewind, my dear readers, to the summer of 2001, to 5-year-old Michelle.

August 25 was the date set for my aunt and uncle’s wedding. It would be the first wedding I had ever been to, and it was only 2 days after my birthday. It really made for one happy summer. (I do think this wedding is due, in part, to that fact that as a toddler, I would call my uncle’s girlfriend “aunt”. The lady I deemed as my “aunt” was becoming my aunt for real – and honestly, the wedding made no difference.)

I had been chosen, along with a shy girl I’d never met before, to be a flower girl. The real drama for my aunt began when I threw a temper tantrum over her dress selection (really – a white dress?!). I wanted one with flowers. But after my “I DON’T WANT TO WEAR THIS!!” crisis, I decided the dress wasn’t so bad – and my great-grandma made me a flower pillow in place of a dress. First fiasco – check.

My dress!

Next came rehearsal. This was very exciting for me, too. (Now that I’m a dancer, I realize that I’ve just loved crazy rehearsals my whole life, and that makes bigger ones more exciting :).) We practiced and practiced the walk-down-the-aisle routine, and I caught on to the flower-sprinkling really quickly. Flower Girl #2 didn’t, but that was okay – I really was a performer and I could handle being the only one doing my part. Also, my 2-or-3-year-old cousin was slacking in his role as the ring-bearer. My other aunt got to carry the pillow, while he walked down the aisle. But I couldn’t help with that too much.

Apparently, somewhere along the way, I got annoyed with something and said (with great acclamation, GG says): “I don’t want to be a flower girl.” The family simply trusted the Lord and went on with life, and I ended up re-enjoying the ceremony. I’m convinced 5-year-olds can have hormones too. They just come in different ways.

I begged the coordinator to keep doing the thing again, but finally, we had rehearsal dinner. It was beautiful, from my family’s recollections. I totally zoned out. 🙂 That’s the downfall to having 5-year-olds in your wedding; you could pay for a wonderful dinner and they won’t remember it. At all.

Wedding day dawned bright and happy – I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. I got in my dress (which I then deemed beautiful) and we had pictures – LOTS of pictures – taken. I saw my beautiful aunt and got really, really excited! I even got to go in her dressing room – all the perfume smells, dresses, makeup, mirrors… it was heavenly :). This, also, I took completely for granted – but I spent my time in there comforting miss Flower Girl #2. She was really a nervous wreck.

Then – the ceremony began! I walked down the aisle, just like I’d been told, and sprinkled my flowers on the aisle. Flower Girl #2 didn’t – she just walked, scared as could be. Now unbeknownst to the delirious performer (myself), my cousin the ring-bearer was having some serious fun behind me. My aunt, naturally, was carrying the pillow, and Alec, well – check these pictures and see if you can tell.

Me doing my part; see Alec in the back?

Look what that guy's holding!

Yes. My cousin was running frantically behind me, exclaiming, “MICHELLE’S SPILLING!!!!” He picked up some of my petals for me, too. I had no idea this had occurred until the reception, when one of the ladies there told me. OOPS.

The reception was amazingly fun. I got to dance with a lot of people – my aunt, uncle, grandpa, other aunt, and who knows who else :). This was one really cute picture from the occasion:

Aww 🙂

The only other thing I really remember is there being a pile of spilled spinach on the floor – my cousin and I were a bit bothered by that. Misgivings aside, the reception was nicely done. 🙂 And misgivings included, this was the most entertaining wedding I’ve been to! I really didn’t get the beauty of marriage back then, but now, I’ve gotta say Melody and Josiah’s was the best yet :).

I really and truly don’t know why I felt like sharing that. Maybe because my great-grandma let us look at the picture album she had from the wedding? It was really fun reading the stories she kept – and I know I want to preserve the funny memories too!

Lord, I just think it’s so cool that you gave me the gift of performing – even back then, GG already had it in her mind that I would perform somehow, somewhere. And now I look at all the fun I have with dance – worshipping You – and realize that she was right. I’m not as dramatic as I was back then, but my, Lord, how I do love using stages for telling about You! I pray for whoever reads this, Daddy – help them see the gifts You’ve given them. They might be hard to see – and Lord, for a while there, I thought dance wasn’t one of my gifts. But God, I don’t have to conquer the whole world. In fact, I don’t have to conquer a dance combination – or stage fright – for You to love me. Thank You for reminding me that I’m blessed beyond the curse, for Your promise will endure!

And remind the readers, Daddy, of how You’ve blessed them. Nope, we can’t make You love us. It’s impossible. But this I know – our God is for us, and You will never forsake us in weakness. You just ask that we accept Your hand, surrendering ourselves… abide in You, our Vine. Keep us close, Father, I pray. In Your name, Amen.

The Lord – is jealous. Jealous for you.

In reading “Abide in Christ”, I find myself quite frequently getting stressed. All was cool when I thought of Jesus as the vine, and I was one of His branches. Or how our Father, the Gardner, made us one… as in, Jesus chooses to delight in me and use me to further His kingdom! He could totally do it all by Himself. But He chooses to have me, you, His body, do it.

Yes yes, but then it started to get complicated (or so the Enemy wishes I would feel). “Of God are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” -1 Corinthians 1:30. Murray proceeded to do chapters on each of those aspects, but I’ll admit, it started getting really confusing! Okay, Lord, I have to remember – abide in You as my wisdom *feelin great*, righteousness *I’m not guilty anymore, I’m not filthy anymore!*, sanctification *uh* and redemption *uh*.

Do you ever have times where you wish you got something in the Bible and you just couldn’t? I read the sanctification and redemption chapters, like, five times each. And to be honest, it made the aspects of sanctification and redemption seem to drag! What’s going on, God?!

Ouch. Then to make everything worse, I had a guilt attack this morning!! And the last thing I wanted to worry about was abiding in Christ. No, Daddy, I gotta get over this guilt first. I have to ask *person who shall remain nameless* what she is really feeling… figure out if I’m really meant to be a dancer! Then I have chemistry, and You know I can’t focus on You during that… do everything like working for God!

I forgot the wonderful wisdom God whispers in my ear… through Murray:

On my part, abiding is nothing but the acceptance of my position, the consent to be kept there, the surrender of faith to the strong Vine to hold the feeble branch… And as you keep your gaze fixed on Him, holding you and waiting to lift you up, could you not this very day take the upward step and rise to enter upon this blessed life of abiding in Christ? Yes, begin at once, and say,

O my Jesus, if You bid me, and if You engage to lift and keep me there, I will venture. Trembling, but trusting, I will say, ‘Jesus, I do abide in You.’

You can trust Him to keep you trusting and abiding.

That is the love of Our Father. He sees us, weak, feeble branches that we are, yet He seeks to lift us up. And all we have to do is surrender to His love. I find it really convicting to think of all the distractions that would seek to prevent me from surrendering to Christ and trusting Him, and to realize how sad Jesus must feel.

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” -Phil. 3:12

Idea being, Jesus wants me to abide in Him – and He’s willing to keep me there, if only I’ll surrender! I will follow after :).

Take this with you today! He’s jealous for you, He loves you, and He wants you abiding in Him! The Enemy is the only one who would tell you otherwise…and make you feel like you have to earn His holy jealousy.

Very recently, I went on a “retreat” to my best friend Sammie’s house. I must admit, it was the best weekend of my entire life – I learned so much about my precious Daddy!! And learned to love her more, too :). I really want to share what I learned, but I learned so much, there’s no way an amateur writer can combine it all… So I’m gonna do it in bits – maybe a “Jehovah – __” series? I’m assuming they’re all going to overlap in some way or another, but I’ll do my best to keep on task.

Jehovah-Rapha, for you non-Hebrew speakers, means “The Lord is my healer”. (No worries, I don’t speak Hebrew myself. I did a Bible study on the names of God, and I wrote down the different ones in Hebrew.) I went to Sam’s house expecting great things from God, but not healing in the ways I expected! It was really interesting – when I got there, Sam told me, “You know, Michelle, I really feel like this is going to be a great healing experience for you.” Her family is extremely special – it models the Church family so well! And that was where the healing began.

Here’s a bit from my second favorite book (which Sammie introduced to me on this retreat), “Abide in Christ” by Andrew Murray. Totally how I felt, for a long time.

Either way, it was not long before the bright joy of your first love was lost, and your path, instead of being like the path of the just, shining more and more unto the perfect Day, became like Israel’s wandering in the desert – ever on the way, never very far, yet always coming short of the promised rest.

Oh yes, I was thinking. Every day, I read something in the Bible – “Love your neighbor as yourself” – got all inspired, failed through the course of the day, and prayed that night “Wow, God, I’m sorry… I’ll try to do better tomorrow. Can You help me? You know how much I want to love my neighbor…” And the next day, I would try again! BAM! failure struck again. “Hey, God…. this didn’t work! Tomorrow?”

Every day, I came short of that promised rest that our Savior so badly wanted to give me. It was like I didn’t believe that GOD could teach and keep me all day!

It is not the yoke, but the resistance to the yoke, that causes the difficulty; the wholehearted surrender to Jesus, as both our Master and our Keeper, finds and secures the rest.

What? You mean… all I have to do is surrender? But what about loving my neighbor? What about taking up my cross? What about keeping my mind on You, so I’m at peace? What about not letting my heart be troubled? Huh?

And my Beloved answers, “Abide in Me.” (John 15:4).

Abiding in Jesus is nothing but the giving up of oneself to be ruled and taught and led, and so resting in the arms of everlasting Love. … With this grace secured, we have strength for every duty, courage for every struggle, a blessing in every cross, and the joy of life eternal in death itself.

This is where the healing begins! I’m still working on the whole idea of surrendering to God, and especially being pursued by God. I confess, on days that just creeps me out. Yeah, here is where the Enemy sneaks in…

There was the spiritual healing. I can’t do it – but God can, and He wants me simply to surrender. In that surrender is the cultivation of soil ready to grow good fruits! *sigh of contentedness*.

And yes, there was a physical healing too! If you’ve read my blog post about dance, you’ll know my legs are a centimeter different in length. I had to wear a heel lift for dancing, which wasn’t in and of itself a pain. It was such a joy to be dancing that I didn’t care about a heel lift! But Sam and I talked, and she really felt the Holy Spirit leading her to pray for my leg. I didn’t see a point, really, but I reluctantly let her have at it. I felt so blessed afterward!!!

Then, weird things happened. First, I got these strange growing pains in my leg. I was convinced they were from walking… but that glimmer of hope resided in me. “God CAN heal me. I have faith He can.” Then, I stopped using my heel lift – only to find my hip sore again! “What’s up, Lord?” The next week, I took a dance class without the heel lift – strangely enough, it didn’t hurt! The next dance class didn’t hurt my hip either. I ran – which normally makes my hip ache to no end – and it STILL didn’t hurt!

Well – I can’t really tell you if my leg grew. Sammie and I tried our best to measure it, but that didn’t work too well. I can tell you, though, that my Daddy divinely intervened – whether He made muscles stronger or made my leg grow or has numbed it for a while, I don’t know. But I can tell you, it was so refreshing after that step of faith! And even if my hip starts killing me tomorrow, I can tell you this – God can do miracles. He is our Healer!! And He’s still at work, making my stained-glass-bits life into something beautiful.

May I ask you now, to ask your Father to help you take a step of faith… to surrender; to abide in Him. He is at work in You! The power that raised Jesus from the dead is in you, if you’re a believer!!!!
Whee!!! 🙂

Yep – stressful week :). Very stressful week. I actually just read an (in)courage article titled “I Stress, Therefore I Am” and I just had to steal it from them :). The point simply was that as people, we’re gonna have stress. But we can’t let stress overwhelm us – and we need to get our priorities in order! I stress about homework, and that’s certainly not the main thing I should be worried about. Actually, I really feel like school distracts me from doing what God wants me to be doing.

Wrong. 🙂 Thanks to the nifty invention of seasons… this is my season for learning all about the Periodic Table (which I don’t hate nearly as much as Pastor Begg), studying odd things like epifauna and meiofauna in biology (which I love), and using the fact I am a student to help people who are students too! There’s something really special about identifying with the people you work with, and schoolwork’s great for that. Especially at Urban Vision! 🙂

Marry didn’t want to sit through history and the loud music (yes – Urban Vision does history the RIGHT way!), so we sat out in the hall, talked, and took pictures.

Hae Nay Paw Soe, Me, and Free Lah :). They were getting my screen icky with their lollipop-covered fingers, so I gave them wipes to clean their hands. But they washed the bathroom instead, while Heather and I looked on in amazement. LOVE! Then they had fun doodling on the drawing app on my iPod, and clicking all the pretty symbols on the calculator. Like **, #, =, etc. 🙂

These girls are CRAZY special. They’re the ones that the whole school factor comes into play :). We’re all 14, and I help them with homework at Urban Vision. (Their math homework is pretty much all the stuff that shows up on the standardized tests that I hadn’t seen in Algebra 2 – so it’s helpful to review :).) We’ve had 2 sleepovers together, and they’ve come to church with me both times! And loved it – especially the music.

We do have Karen nicknames – it started when I heard Eh Moo call Ma Rian “Thu”, which means “black” in Karen. I asked why Ma Rian was “black”… and Eh Moo told me it was just a nickname :). We expanded from there – Eh Moo is “Baw”, or “yellow”, but I never call her that. Eh Moo just sounds prettier :). And me… well, I asked what “michelle” meant in Karen, and they thought about the “Mi” part for a while. They died laughing a few seconds later… when they informed me that “Mi” means “Rice”! 🙂 Again, they don’t call me Mi, but I still think it’s special.

 

Eek – now that you’ve had the info on our names… I shared these girls with you because they are living proof that miracles can happen! 🙂 We’ve been trying to get Ma Rian to come to our church FOREVER, and she came and really enjoyed it. (Ha – they had an interesting discussion in high school that day too…) Her contact for me on her phone is “Bbf” – “best best friend” – and she’s pretty much my Karen sister :). Such a blessing, she is… we’ve done Bible studies together and I can really tell she wants to be a stronger Christian and braver talking with American people!

Eh Moo loves making me laugh. The biggest “funny thing” she does is call me “Miss Michelle”. It’s general respect at Urban Vision to call EVERYONE who volunteers/works there “Miss” or “Mr.”, but even though we’re the same age, she still calls me “Miss”. Silly girl.. Before I had to share my testimony at Urban Vision, she shared her one-person chair with me and encouraged me, and made me smile :). And after, told me I did a good job. And I know it wasn’t all that great, but the encouragement was amazing. She loves to joke, and can easily make Ma Rian fall over -literally- laughing.

 

So the reason I shared all that in a thing about stress… God can still do amazing things while I’m a student! And with any season anyone goes through… Just thinking about how God has used my education up to this point to bless people at Urban Vision, and how I’ve really implicitly loved chemistry and geometry reminds me that everything works for the good of those who love God!

So as I go through today… and prepare for that dumb SAT tomorrow… I WILL remember that God has a plan! And He CAN and WILL see this plan to abundant completion!

God created and sustains me – therefore, I am!

 

I got a very, very special book this Christmas from my grandma. It’s called Valley of Vision, and it’s a really fun collection of Puritan prayers. There are some really uplifting prayers in there (my favorites are about serving and worship) but I’m continually amazed at how many convicting poems there are. Check this one out… titled, simply, “Pride”.

O Thou terrible Meek,

Let not pride swell my heart. …

Sin’s deformity is stamped upon me,

darkens my brow, touches me with corruption:

How can I flaunt myself proudly?

Lowest abasement is my due place,

for I am less than nothing before Thee.

Help me to see myself in Thy sight,

then pride must wither, decay, die, perish.

Humble my heart before Thee,

and replenish it with Thy choicest gifts.

As water rests not on barren hill summits,

but flows down to fertilize lowest vales,

So make me the lowest of the lowly,

that my spiritual riches may exceedingly abound. …

When I am tempted to think highly of myself [not implying that depression is the answer],

grant me to see the wily power of my spiritual enemy …

If I fall let me hide myself in my Redeemer’s righteousness,

and when I escape, may I ascribe all deliverance to Thy grace.

Keep me humble, meek, lowly.

I think for citation purposes, I’m supposed to say that the italics are mine… it’s protocol! So there you are.

Ahem. Anyway… I think that’s an extremely humbling poem. If it didn’t hit ya that way, pray and give it another go. This is some serious stuff! Whoever wrote this really had it on his heart to not even think highly of himself. Not something we think about much, huh?

Please don’t get this wrong. God sees you as His child (if you’ve believed) – His bride, His pure, spotless bride – redeemed and everything. So in God’s eyes, we’re amazingly precious!!! The point of this prayer, I think, is to remind us that no blessing we have ever received was from ourselves. I think everyone, now and then, somehow thinks what they have is totally their doing. Sorry, though – short of sin, nothing you have is from you.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I had been born in a refugee camp like my friends. Or even in Myanmar, as a teenager, when all of a sudden, you’re forced to run away from your village into some jungle in Thailand so you won’t be killed. Then you’re shipped off to America, knowing zero English and expected to get a job, house, and eventually get off government funding. It’s so true that the less you have, the more that littler things mean to you.

So back to that prayer… water doesn’t rest on mountains. It flows down to the valleys.

Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” – Luke 9:48

I think this arouses some serious rejoicing!! I hope for you, too… no, we can’t boast in ourselves. But the Creator of the universe, our Lord, has given us blessings! Lots of them – so that we can give credit to His name… like, we have the privilege to say, “GOD gave me this! GOD lets me use this for His glory!”

So do give God the glory!!

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You,

who walk in the light of Your presence, LORD.

They rejoice in Your name all day long;

They celebrate Your righteousness.

For you are their glory and strength,

and by Your favor You exalt our horn..

“The enemy will not get the better of him;

the wicked will not oppress him.

I will crush his foes before him

and strike down his adversaries.

My faithful love will be with him,

and through my name his horn will be exalted. …

I will maintain my love to him forever,

and my covenant with him will never fail.”

~Psalm 89:15-17, 22-24, 28; italics mine.

 

 

So I’ve been inspired by Maria to do a long blog post. 🙂 However… I really don’t have a super long story to tell! I would write about my day shadowing a physical therapist, or about chemistry (indeed, I could go on forever about chemistry! You’d hate it just as much as I do when I’m through.) But I really wanted to share my story from the past 5 or so months!! So here it is! (Note: I wrote this around Christmas time. The very latest is that I’m back at dance for normal classes and am super excited for June! *The countdown begins…*)

 

Earlier in the year, I finally mustered up the courage to tell my dear, sweet dance teacher that my hip hurt doing straddles and lunges. This was after at least 50 times of her saying, “If you have a pain, and it doesn’t go away, tell me!”. See I’m just such an independent person I thought I was a good diagnoser – I mean, shouldn’t doing straddles MAKE your hip hurt? I guess not.
So then, after many, many experiments trying to fix it, we did the next best thing and went to a sports med doctor. Who seemed rather amused at the whole situation and sent me to a physical therapist (another sweet lady!) (and on the prescription sheet, he checked the boxes for “core strength” “flexibility” and all those things. How uplifting..). This was during a time when I really wanted to be a PT, so not paying any attention to all the painful things that happened, I truly enjoyed it. She gave me exercises and stretches and sent me away for four weeks – both of us relatively certain I’d be okay and it would get fixed.
Six weeks later, we reluctantly went back to my PT. It wasn’t better. It hurt to sit down and walk. She was officially confused and after some negotiating, she told me to quit dance. Quit.
It was a tearful Michelle sending an email to her dear, sweet second mommy (dance teacher)…. calling my best friend, telling my poor great-grandma I couldn’t dance for her. But it wasn’t just sadness from dance separation… it was a missing of the sweet Bible time we would have together. I could really feel the Lord’s presence every time I went to dance. But I moved on with my life, to an area I had planned to avoid – urban ministry. Note: If God wants you somewhere, He will definitely get you there!

My momma was also going through an adjustment time, where she felt like our homeschool group was too much and we needed time for ministry and family. We were all for it, and promptly dropped out. But what’s so cool about it is, if I didn’t drop out, I still wouldn’t have been able to go to Urban Vision. But we dropped out, and I started helping with the after-school program. I love it, and got to be with kids who I wouldn’t have seen till next summer otherwise. I learned more about how those kinds of things run, and made lots more friends.

Needless to say, as much as I had fun, I really did miss my precious dance girls. And my hip still wasn’t completely normal, so I couldn’t even dance on my own. (Well, I did mini ballet-classes in the gym at Urban Vision. Those don’t count.) So… back to the doctor we went. And he was almost ready to send us home with a half-hour’s worth of exercises when I said, “Oh, wait! I’ve been putting two insoles in my right, and none in my left, and my hip didn’t hurt as much when I walk like that.” I had leg-length X-rays done, and my legs are 1 cm. different.
That’s right. 1 CENTIMETER caused all this trouble!! I proceeded to get a heel lift, and my hip hurt no more. My exercises made my hip even stronger, and I could do straddles with less pain. But the one thing I still was dying to know, in the midst of all the excitement, was, could I dance again?
Well… I continued to do exercises, and then we went back for a follow-up appointment. This was 3 weeks before the Christmas dance show, on a Wednesday morning. (It’s significant to note that my company has class Wednesday afternoons.) My exercises had made my gluteus medii much stronger, and the heel lift indeed helped my pain, he concluded. He almost gave Mom and a I a fright when he said, “Well, it could be a torn tissue… we’d need to do an MRI…” -Mom panics; we have a high deductible – “… but because it doesn’t hurt when you’re walking, it’s probably not. I think it’s just the way you’re built.”
He went on to explain that I was at a disadvantage, because with ballet, you usually try to look symmetrical and do wide leaps, and glissades, etc. Of course I won’t be able to, likely, but I really didn’t care. I have no desire to do professional ballet ;). But Mom and I were still in suspense. “So,” she asked, “is Michelle clear to go back to dance?”
You’d never guess… but he said YES!!!
I left the office in quite a joyful state. I planned to go home, stick my heel lift in a pair of socks (because I have canvas ballet shoes and they just rip on the carpeting in our basement) and just dance. But then, as Mom and I talked, it became a possibility that I could just jump back in for Christmas. Apparently I gave her the idea that she should call my teacher and see, but when we got home (and instead of dancing, I did homework :P.) and I heard her, in her room, talking with my teacher, I panicked. I heard Mom doing a lot of “That’s okay… I understand” and I was so angry and embarrassed.
My mom comes out to talk to me and says, “Michelle, can you listen to what I have to say without getting mad?” Oh dear. “Mrs. H wants you back at dance TODAY.”

As you can tell, the *second* most recent update is, that I’m back in dance and preparing for the show next week!!!! I jumped into all three of my dances (and our two in the aisles) and got “fired” from my spotlight duty ;). I am simply overflowing with love and joy for the Lord!!!
I can’t tell you how much my dance teacher and company encouraged me through this all… CONSTANTLY emailing me with “The Lord has a plan…” And indeed, He did! I made so many great friendships at Urban Vision and now am struggling to see if I’ll have time to go back in the spring. (But I’ve seen enough to know, that You’re my only hope, I don’t want to go, if You’re not with me…) My great-grandma and I got to work on sewing a part of my costume together, which was a wonderful bonding experience.

The conclusion? (to this very long narrative?) God is GOOD!!

Long enough? 🙂 What an experience for God to really teach me that His grace is MORE than enough!!

And now, I’m actually helping with a ballet class at Urban Vision! I love my class, and am just loving practicing teaching on them :). (Well, I have failed to teach tour jete’s TWICE. Practice makes perfect..) Maybe I’ll do pictures of them later?

Have a blessed weekend! Don’t drink too much caffeine! And…. GOD IS GOOD!!!!!! 🙂

I was listening to a VERY good sermon a while ago, the title of which was “Bigger Anchors”. As Christians, we’re kind of like boats in an ocean. We’ve left captivity-in-sin-land and are heading into deeper waters toward Heaven. Mysterious, and intriguing, huh?

The pastor very accurately pointed out how so many of us want … well, more in life! More missions involvement, more importance, more blessing-others time. Is it all good? Well, YEAH! But so so often we ask for these things, in this kind of way. Do you relate?

  • Wake up; realize you want more spiritual ambition
  • “Hey God! Give me a bigger heart for you!”
  • Does homework
  • Does chores
  • Inevitably, sins
  • Forgets about the fervent prayer in the morning…
  • Changes nothing in life
  • Etc.

We hear adults tell us ALL the time how redundant and depressing life can be. I got news for you grown people – God is too awesome for calling His people to live boring lives! So the first step is to want to change. But the second is to NOT be pushed into this redundant life of an unchanged person and actually change! And we all know that we can’t force ourselves to fall in love with God. I can’t. I assure you, this comes from experience.

So we NEED God to realize we need Him! And we need God to grow closer to Him, to get out of that redundant life cycle. And here’s where bigger anchors come in.

Devotional time is our anchor. Time spent with our Father is our anchor. This doesn’t mean just going to church, because I can assure you, I’ve been to church far too many times and not spent very much time with the Lord at all.

Do you see the picture? The more time we give to God, the bigger our anchor becomes, and the deeper waters we will find ourself in and handling well. The more ministry opportunities we’ll be able to handle! The closer to God we’ll become. When we give time to Him, He rewards it! His words will not return void, and we’ll see the fruits of the Spirit blossoming in our lives.

That said – when to have devo time? I do it in the morning, and in the evening. The ladies over at Girltalk have a 5 O’Clock Club for moms especially, but anyone who has a busy life and wants that time with the Lord. May I ask you to pray and see what special communion time the Lord has in store for the both of you?

Remember: the bigger the anchor, the bigger the waters. Oh, and the less drab your life will be – guaranteed :).